A grandmother in Canada is the latest victim of Canada’s healthcare system after her cancer became aggressive during a 10-week wait to see an oncologist. Samia Saikali, 67, opted for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) earlier this year.
Saikali’s ordeal began in December of 2022 after she felt pain in her stomach during a family trip. While she sought medical attention, it took nearly 10 weeks for her to be referred to an oncologist. In March, she received a diagnosis of inoperable stomach cancer.
Following the diagnosis, Saikali’s surgeon told her she had two options: Without treatment, she had only three to six months to live. With chemotherapy, it would add at least a year to her life. Though she at first opted to receive treatment, the gastric cancer became aggressive and painful to carry on with.
As her options wore thin, Saikali, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, began to prepare for her own death — creating a box for each of grandchildren that included birthday cards for every year until they turn 18.
Saikali opted for MAID, taking her last breath on June 22 of this year.
Distraught by her mother’s ordeal, her daughter has now come forward to speak with Chek News and highlight the flaws in Canada’s healthcare system.
“It should not have taken that long, because that was the difference, especially an aggressive cancer,” Saikali’s daughter said. “Between my mom being strong enough to handle, and withstand, treatment to give her a fair shot at more months to live, versus not.”
Saikali is not the first Canadian to be approved for MAID after struggling with getting access to proper healthcare due to the country’s long wait times.
In November, a man in British Columbia similarly opted for euthanasia after being unable to obtain an appointment with an oncologist for his aggressive esophageal cancer.
In some cases, it appears Medical Assistance in Dying is now being used as an administrative crutch to fill in the gaping inadequacies in Canada’s healthcare system. As previously reported by The Publica, a woman was recently offered information on MAID by a clinician at Vancouver General Hospital after seeking medical assistance for suicidal ideations.
Though struggling with depression, the woman was asked if she had considered MAID, with the clinician advising her that wait times to see a psychiatrist were extremely long due to Canada’s “broken” medical system.
Medical Assistance in Dying was first introduced in Canada in 2016. Though it was initially legalized for Canadians with “grievous and irremediable [physical] medical conditions,” it was expanded in 2021 to include incurable conditions that did not have an imminent risk of death.
But the eligibility for MAID is set to be expanded once again in March of 2024 to include those suffering purely with mental health disorders, such as depression and anorexia. According to an expert panel report to Canada’s parliament, the new guidance will make Canada one of the most liberal countries in the world for assisted suicide.
Canada’s euthanasia program has already come under fire after a number of scandals, including when medical professionals allowed a man to die whose only listed medical condition was hearing loss.
As the proposed March expansion drawers nearer, a slew of concerning stories surrounding MAID recommendations have been circulated, including one in which a nurse suggesting suicide to veterans with PTSD, and another where doctor reportedly told a mother that she was “selfish” for not wanting her daughter with spina bifida to die.